British paratrooper removing his Welbike motorcycle from it’s drop container in the Market Garden display at the Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant.
Plastic ‘economy’ issue Parachute Regiment beret badge and half section of a German dog-tag. Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant
Operation Market Garden German soldiers and British para captive on display at the Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant.
British and German paratrooper on display at the Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant
Various British 1st Airborne Division shoulder and beret badges. Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant
German fallschirmjäger (paratrooper) helmet on display at the Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant
German weapons display at the Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant
British Sten gun variations on display at the Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant
Like the Glider Collection Wolfheze, the Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum (sometimes referred to in English language search engines as the Arnhem War Museum) is another private museum in the Arnhem area.
Owner Eef Peeters started collecting militaria as a boy, storing his collection at first in his home, followed by a shed and then finally, in 1994, moving the collection to its current location, an old school, in Schaarsbergen. The collection does not focus specifically on Operation Market Garden but paints a much broader picture of what happened in Arnhem and the surrounding areas during the war years. This includes a number of objects relating to less popular subjects including collaboration and the Dutch Nazi Party, the Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging in Nederland (NSB).
Dutch Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging in Nederland (NSB) uniform. The printed caption in Dutch referred to Carolus Huygen, the Secretary General of the NSB fron 1940. However it did not indicate whether this uniform was his or belonged to another member. Photo: Julian Tennant
Various insignia and items relating to the Dutch Nazi Party, the Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging in Nederland (NSB). Photo: Julian Tennant
Dutch Nazi Party, the Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging in Nederland (NSB) cap. Photo: Julian Tennant
Dutch volunteer of the Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 10 ‘Westland’ / SS-Standarte ‘Westland’ and propaganda recruiting poster. Photo: Julian Tennant
Two Dutch SS cufftitles. The “Frw. Legion Nederland” title was worn by members of the “Freiwillige Legion Niederlande”. The “Landstorm Nederland” was originally a a home guard unit, which the SS took over in 1943 and became the SS-“Freiwilligen-Brigade Landstorm Nederland” before evolving into the “34. SS-Freiwilligen-Grenadier-Division Landstorm Nederland” in February 1945. I am not sure of the significance of the newspaper beneath the cuff titles. Photo: Julian Tennant
This is an old-style museum concentrating on artifacts, rather than interactive displays. It’s a fascinating and at times eclectic collection of items squeezed into the available space. A lot of the memorabilia is not captioned in English, so I had to rely on my rusty Afrikaans/Dutch skills to interpret some of the captions, but the staff were helpful and friendly. When one of the volunteer staff members found out that I was a collector, after I asked if there were any antique or shops around which may have militaria for sale, he invited me into the office to show me some of the original items that were available for sale to help fund the museum upkeep. But, whilst I was tempted by a couple of period Dutch National Socialist badges, I decided that I had better try to maintain focus on my airborne interest and left empty handed.
German Luftwaffe display at the Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant
Shoulder patch of the Legion Freies Arabien (Free Arabian Legion), which was worn by units raised by the Germans using recruits from the Middle East and North Africa. Photo: Julian Tennant
Selection of German gorgets that have seen better days, on display at the Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant.
German Waffen SS officer’s cap with bevo type Totenkopf skull on display at the Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant.
German Luftwaffe uniforms worn during the occupation of Holland. Photo: Julian Tennant
German army officer uniforms worn during the occupation of Holland. Photo: Julian Tennant
Dutch resistance ‘Oranje’ armbands on display at the Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant
Items for sale at the Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Like many museums, there are a selection of replica items for sale. However after chatting to the staff and mentioning my collecting interest, they also showed me some original pieces that were not on display that were also available to help fund the museum. Photo: Julian Tennant
If you have a car, Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum is about 10 minutes drive from central Arnhem or if you are using public transport can be reached in under half an hour via the #9 bus departing from near Arnhem Centraal train station.
The Glider Collection Wolfheze is a private collection relating to the British airborne assault on Arnhem in 1944. Operation Market Garden which occurred between the 17th and 26th of September 1944 is one of the best known allied airborne operations of World War Two. The goal of the operation was to push through the German lines from the Belgian city of Neerpelt to Arnhem in Holland, bypassing the German Siegfried Line and crossing their last natural obstacle, the Rhine river. This would allow them to sweep east into Germany, knock out the German industrial base in the Ruhr pocket and end the war before Christmas. But as history shows, things did not work out that way.
As part of the operation, the British 1st Airborne Division had to secure bridges over the Rhine at Arnhem and hold them until linking up with the XXX-Corps who were advancing from Neerpelt. On 17 September, pathfinders from the 21st Independent Parachute Company marked the drop zones and landing areas near the small Dutch village of Wolfheze, approximately 10km northwest of Arnhem in preparation for the arrival of the 350 gliders ferrying the 1st Airlanding Brigade under the command of Brigadier Philip Hicks.
USAAF aerial photograph of Landing Zone ‘S’, Wolfheze, 17 September 1944.
Paratroops of 1st Airlanding Brigade disembark from their gliders on the outskirts of Arnhem, 17 September 1944. Photograph by Sergeant D M Smith, Army Film and Photographic Unit. [National Army Museum Image number: 106458]
Horsa Glider carrying Polish troops of the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade (Gen-Maj. Stanislaw Sosabowski) landing on the Wolfheze landing zone.
The landings were largely unopposed as the Germans were initially thrown into confusion and the 1st Airlanding Brigade moved off from the landing zones whilst the 1st Parachute Brigade headed east towards the bridges. The fields around Wolfheze remained one of the primary entry points for the Allied airborne troops, receiving reinforcements from the 1st Airborne Division on the 18th and troops from the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade on the 19th.
Glider Memorial and Liberation Route Marker 25 near the entrance to the Camping & Chalet Park “De Lindenhof”, home to Paul Hendriks’ Glider Museum Wolfheze. Photo: Julian Tennant
The building at the Camping & Chalet Park “De Lindenhof” housing Paul Hendriks’ Glider Museum Wolfheze. Photo: Julian Tennant
The Glider Collection Wolfheze. Photo: Julian Tennant
Around the town of Wolfheze are several sites commemorating the operation including a Glider Memorial at Liberation Route Marker 25. The Liberation Route follows the course of the Allies during the liberation of Europe. The route starts in Normandy and continues via Nijmegen and Arnhem in the direction of Berlin.
The memorial is also located close to the entrance of “De Lindenhof” Camping & Chalet Park which is also home to the private collection of Paul Hendriks who has assembled a collection of artifacts related to the gliders used during Operation Market Garden. The Glider Collection Wolfheze contains several pieces salvaged from the landing zones around Arnhem as well as sections of a Horsa and a Hamilcar glider plus other bits and pieces related to the battle.
This is a private museum so it is not open for viewing every day however his website lists the official opening days for the year. Alternatively, you can contact Paul by telephone or email to arrange a viewing.
Mannequin displaying the uniform of a glider-borne soldier from the 1st Airlanding Brigade during Operation Market Garden, September 1944. Photo: Julian Tennant
The Glider Collection Wolfheze. Photo: Julian Tennant
Royal Enfield ‘Flying Flea’ (or WD/RE to use its official title) motorcycle in the carriage frame used to transport the bikes on Horsa Gliders. On the ground, it was used for reconnaissance, communications and proved itself invaluable during the battle when beset with radio communication problems, commanders relied on these motorcycles to relay messages. Photo: Julian Tennant
Glider Collection Wolfheze. Unloading a General Aircraft GAL-49/50 Hamilcar Glider. Detail from one of the dioramas on display at the museum. Photo: Julian Tennant
Glider Collection Wolfheze. Posing for a photo. Detail from one of the dioramas on display at the museum. Photo: Julian Tennant
Australia’s special forces trace their history back to World War 2, with the operations conducted by the Independent Commando companies, Navy Beach Commando, the Services Reconnaissance Department SRD (Z Special Unit) and the Allied Intelligence Bureau (M Special Unit). Post war, the skills and traditions were maintained by the commando companies which later evolved into 1 Commando Regiment and then in 1957 by the raising of a Special Air Service Company which became the Special Air Service Regiment in 1964. 2 Commando Regiment evolved out of the re-tasking of the 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, to take on the commando role becoming 4 RAR (Cdo) in 1997 and then 2 Commando Regiment in 2009.
Command and control for Australian special operations units was initially maintained by the Directorate Special Action Forces – Army (DSAF) which was formed in 1979 and underwent several changes, becoming Headquarters Special Forces (1990), Headquarters Special Operations (1997) and in 2003 Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Commanded by a Major General, SOCOM also brings other special operations support units under its control, namely the Special Operations Logistic Squadron (SOLS), Special Operations Engineer Regiment (SOER), Special Operations Training and Education Centre (SOTEC) and Parachute Training School (PTS).
In keeping with the requirements of special forces operations, the activities of many of Australia’s special operations units have, largely, been kept out of the public domain despite a gruelling tempo of operational commitments that has barely let up since the INTERFET deployment to East Timor in 1999. Public interest in the units has grown markedly and this temporary exhibition at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra provides a rare insight into the activities of the Australian special forces in recent years.
Developed in partnership with SOCOM, this exhibition features items held behind closed doors in the Special Air Service Historical Collection, Commando Regiment collection and other sources as well as some artifacts from the AWM’s collections. The displays provide some historical insights into the development of the units along with uniforms, equipment and artifacts related to its various roles, tasks and operations with an emphasis recent operational deployments.
It had been several years since I was last able to visit the AWM, so I recently took advantage of an opportunity to visit Canberra and spend a few solid days checking out this exhibition and the other displays. As previously mentioned, From the Shadows draws on objects held in the unit collections and not available for public viewing. There are over 600 artifacts on display and I was surprised to find that many of the SF related items that are held in the AWM collection such as SAS trooper Don Barnby’s uniform from Vietnam or objects relating to Z Special Unit’s operations against the Japanese, remained in their respective exhibition areas which further helps to contextualise these units roles in the conflicts represented.
The photos that I have included here are just a taste of what is on offer in the From the Shadows exhibition and I’ll leave my other photos from the AWM collection for another post. From the Shadows runs until the 8th of September 2018. If you can make the trip to Canberra to check it out, I strongly recommend that you do, it is an excellent exhibition. More details about the exhibition can be found at the Australian War Memorial website. The ABC also did a piece about it when the exhibition first opened in 2017 and it is worth taking a look at. You can find a link to their article here.
‘From the Shadows: Australia’s Special Forces – The Operators’ video that was featured in the gallery during the exhibition
Les Unités Parachutistes de la Légion Etrangère et Leurs Insignes. 1948 – 2014 by Colonel (H) Duronsoy.
Privately published via Blurb Books (December 2014)
Softcover. 150 pages. French text
Les Unités Parachutistes de la Légion Etrangère et Leurs Insignes is a privately published book which covers the distinctive unit and sub-unit insignia worn by the various airborne units of the French Foreign Legion. This is one of a series of insignia reference books that Colonel Duronsoy, a 30 year veteran of the Legion, has privately published via Blurb books. The French text should not deter collectors as the book features full colour photographs of the front plus back of the insignia used by the Legion Paras since 1948 and despite my lack of French language proficiency I was still able to glean valuable information from the book.